Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

14 November 2000

Table of Contents

BIOWATCH: Australia – local government to be given GM autonomy?
Australia: Committee recommends councils gain GM crop autonomy
Organic Consumers Association: Free Subscription To Monthly Newsletter.
FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT OF THREE BIOSAFETY WORKSHOPS
South African Church Calls for Moratorium on GE Food
South African newspaper questions Aventis application for StarLink
GE cotton – a health risk?
BIOWATCH: GM crop 'con-trick' – new paper
Paper: Big Holes in GM Testing
Monsanto’s Transgenic Cottons can Make Gonorrhoea Untreatable

Top NextFront Page
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2000 10:22:43 +0200
From: "taynton" taynton@cdrive.co.za
Via: geneethics@acfonline.org.au (Bob Phelps)

ACF GeneEthics Network 340 Gore St, Fitzroy 3065 Australia
PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR NEW EMAIL ADDRESS IS:
geneethics@acfonline.org.au

PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR NEW WEBSITE ADDRESS IS:
http://www.geneethics.org

Please don't send unsolicited attachments

BIOWATCH: Australia – local government to be given GM autonomy?

Local governments around the world are increasingly seeking powers that would give them the right to decide whether GM crops should be allowed to be grown on their territory. Congratulations to this committee in the Australian senate for proposing some progress in this area.

At the same time ACF Genetics Network has already obtained a legal opinion indicating that Australian local councils may already have the power (certainly this seems to be the case in New South Wales) to prohibit the release of genetically engineered organisms within their boundaries (see second item).

Interestingly this legal advice is based on local government environmental planning regulations for development and land use in Australia – a subject which has generated intense interest in the UK since the issue was first raised there in June by NLPWessex (see: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/planningmaggmdorse.... )

How long can biotech-industry-sponsored national governments hold out in the face of this growing grass roots revolt?

According to ACF: "The Insurance Council of Australia says the risks of GE are unknown but are possibly very large and may not be insurable".

NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX nlpwessex@bigfoot.com www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2000 10:22:43 +0200
From: "taynton" taynton@cdrive.co.za

Australia: Committee recommends councils gain GM crop autonomy

ABC news, Thu, Nov 2 2000
http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/health/2000/11/item20001102132....

Sections:
Councils want Independance
Democrats
Circular: Your Council Can Be A Genetic Engineering-free Zone
Legal Advice
Summary
Conclusion

Councils want Independance

Councils would be able to keep themselves free of genetically modified crops, under a recommendation from a Senate committee investigating the Federal Government's Gene Technology Bill.

The committee tabled its report in Parliament yesterday, recommending information on all genetically modified crops be made public and that stronger measures be put in place to prevent eco-terrorism.

Committee chair Senator Rosemary Crowley says local government would be able to apply to the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator to prevent GM crops from being grown within its boundaries.

"We hadn't heard of, for example, a State Government applying for the whole state to be a GM-free zone, but it was put to us that local government areas or shire councils might well want to do that," she said.

Democrats

The Australian Greens say the Senate Inquiry report into genetic engineering does not go far enough.

Greens Senator Bob Brown says the recommendations do not match the degree of uncertainty that surrounds genetically modified organisms and their release into the environment.

Senator Brown says on the crucial issue of opt-out powers for states, the report falls short of recommending powers of veto for state and local governments.

"It does tend to favour states having an opt-out clause," Senator Brown said.

"But it does this through the office of the gene technology or the gene regulator and it ought to have a clause in there which quite explicitly says that states and local government authorities have the right to opt-out of gene technologies."


GE-Free Action Alert

Circular: Your Council Can Be A Genetic Engineering-free Zone

November 2000

To: All local governments in Australia
Re: Environment Defender's Opinion – Local Government can be GE free

GE-free Zones protect the livelihoods of farmers and the health of local people. Attached is a legal opinion from the Environment Defenders Office NSW which supports our view that Australian local councils have the power to:

Councils should also get their own legal advice.

Nineteen varieties of six imported food commodities – soy, corn, canola, potato, and sugarbeet (as well as local and imported cottonseed products) - produced using gene technology are being approved for inclusion in our food supply. Councils have a duty of care for their citizens and GE foods do not yet have a long history of safe use. For example, eight of the nineteen foods under assessment contain antibiotic resistance marker genes over which there is a scientific controversy.

Please ask your council to consider prohibiting GE foods in council catering, creche foods and meals on wheels.

Genetically engineered crops are being field trialed in many secret locations throughout rural Australia. Fifteen releases have also been made with insufficient authorisation or the guidelines were broken, over the past decade. The most recent unauthorised releases – herbicide tolerant canola by Aventis in several states, and Monsanto's cotton in Queensland - have posed threats to farming, the environment and public health. The Insurance Council of Australia says the risks of GE are unknown but are possibly very large and may not be insurable.

Please ask your local council to prohibit the experimental and commercial release of genetically engineered organisms within your council area.

Several states and many councils throughout Australia have declared themselves GE-free, temporarily or permanently. Tasmania has a one year freeze, a public inquiry and ten councils have declared themselves GE-free.

In WA, the government has a two year freeze on commercial releases, the ALP opposition favours a five year freeze and several councils have declared themselves GE-free. New Zealand has a one year freeze and a Royal Commission of inquiry. Many councils in other Australian states are now GE-free too.

For further advice or assistance, please contact me at the ACF GeneEthics Network: 03 9416 2222.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Phelps
Director, ACF GeneEthics Network
340 Gore St, Fitzroy 3065 Australia
Tel: (03) 9416.2222     Fax: (03) 9416.0767 {Int Code (613)}
email: geneethics@acfonline.org.au (Bob Phelps) WWW: http://www.geneethics.org

PS: GE-free Zone stickers are available for $1 each. We can also fax the EDO's advice, on request.


Legal Advice

The Environment Defender, NSW
5 October 2000

Bob Phelps
Director, ACF GeneEthics Network
340 Gore St, Fitzroy Vic 3065

By facsimile: 03 9416 0767

Dear Mr Phelps

Advice on powers of local councils to regulate the use of genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) in their local government area.

Thank you for your request for advice on this issue.

Summary

We have considered in this advice two ways in which local councils in New South Wales may enforce a GEO free policy. These are as follows:

This could be achieved by a council passing a resolution to the effect that all contracts for food supplies must require that the supplier provide only GE free food. We consider that such a resolution would be within a council's power to make, and that such a resolution, and the resulting contracts, are unlikely to be in breach of the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act 1974.

The Trade Practices Act issues covered in this advice are applicable to councils throughout Australia, since the Trade Practices Act is a Commonwealth Act. However, the other issues are specific to New South Wales, since planning and local government legislation varies from State to State.

Finally, please note that our advice is confined to the legal means by which local councils may enforce a GE free policy and we have not considered any other issues which may arise when local councils take such action.

.....

Read the detailed story at http://www.geneethics.org

....

Conclusion

A council could request the Minister to amend the LEP applying to the council's local government area to prohibit both agricultural activities using GEO crops and the sale of GE food by new shops. We consider that the Minister has the power under the EP&A Act to make such amendments to the LEP, although we note that there may be considerable difficulties in the practical implementation of some such amendments.

A council could also pass a resolution to the effect that all council contracts for the supply of food must contain a provision requiring that all food supplied is to be GE-free. We consider that a council has the power to pass such a resolution. We consider it unlikely that such action will give rise to a breach of the TP Act..

We emphasise that this advice is based on your instructions and a number of assumptions about likely conduct of councils which have been set out above. While we consider this advice adequately reviews the general principles relevant to this issue, councils should seek their own legal advice on the lawfulness of any of their proposed activities.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like further clarification of this advice.

Yours faithfully
Environmental Defender's Office Ltd

Andrew Macdonald
Solicitor

NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


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Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2000 09:56:20 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton" taynton@cdrive.co.za

Debbie Dunbar Ortman, National Field Organizer
Organic Consumers Association
3547 Haines Rd., Duluth, MN 55811
(218) 726-1443    (218) 726-1446 Fax
debbie@organicconsumers.org     http://www.purefood.org

Organic Consumers Association: Free Subscription To Monthly Newsletter.

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Organic View/BioDemocracy News currently goes to over 30,000 coops, health food stores, nutrition centers, activists, food buying clubs, CSA's, farmers markets, organic farmers, organic consumers, health care professionals, organic businesses and distributors, and organizations. We also maintain an international list.

Who are We

The Organic Consumers Association – the OCA is a national grassroots consumers campaign which grew out of the massive organic consumer response to the USDA's first round of Organic Standards(over 270,000 comments were submitted on the first round) in 1998. Many of us were part of the SOS/Save Organic Standards Campaign. The OCA has speakers (Ronnie Cummins, Debbie Ortman, and Simon Harris) available but we do need transportation/lodging expenses paid for and an honorarium would be helpful. We are also available for media interviews.

We need your help in developing a network of consumers, coops/stores, farmers, and others to build a national organic movement to educate and mobilize consumers about the dangers of genetic engineering and food irradiation, and to submit comments to the USDA on the National Organic Standards and FDA on food safety issues.

Our Food Agenda 2000 campaign calls for:

  1. Global Moratorium on Genetically Engineered Foods and Crops until adequate safety testing has been done. (We were the first organization in '98 to call for a global moratorium);

  2. Stop Factory Farming and Phase-Out Industrial Agriculture;

  3. Convert US Agriculture to at least 30% Organic by 2010.

We have free packets available:

  1. Food Agenda 2000 packets for individuals contain: 2 anti-GE petitions, a GE fact sheet (you can make more copies), leaflets, and a Consumer Warning Leaflet targetting the top 15 food manufacturers to stop using GE ingredients.

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Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2000 13:44:22 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: ekogaia ekogaia@iafrica.com
From: Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org

International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

*** ICGEB BIOSAFETY NEWS – NOVEMBER 2000 ***

http://www.icgeb.trieste.it/biosafety
biosafe@icgeb.trieste.it

The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) is an autonomous, international, intergovernmental organization formed by 62 signatory countries of which 43 are full Member States. The Centre is dedicated to advanced research and training in molecular biology and biotechnology. The mandate of the ICGEB is to promote the safe use of biotechnology world-wide and with special regard to the needs of the developing world. Further information on the ICGEB could be found on its web pages at http://www.icgeb.trieste.it

FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT OF THREE BIOSAFETY WORKSHOPS

Sections:
5 – 9 March, 2001 – Trieste, ITALY (BIOSAFETY 1)
2 – 6 April 2001 – Florence, ITALY.(BIOSAFETY 2)
12 – 16 November 2001- Caracas, VENEZUELA.(BIOSAFETY 3)
Requests for information and applications directly to:
Case studies of GE releases
Discussion document
New Journal Announcement
Distribution List Service
Excerpts from PAST ISSUES
The last ACTIVITY REPORT
FURTHER INFORMATION is available on the ICGEB Biosafety

This list disseminates information regarding

  1. the activities of the Biosafety Unit at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB),
  2. the updating of the ICGEB Biosafety WebPages and
  3. major events related to biosafety and risk assessment for the environmental release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The ICGEB Directorate has approved the new Calendar of meeting and courses for the year 2001. Among the 19 scheduled events, the following three biosafety workshops will be organized:

  1. 5 – 9 March, 2001 – Trieste, ITALY (BIOSAFETY 1)

    Introduction to biosafety and risk assessment for the environmental release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs): theoretical approach and scientific background.

    Location: International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) Headquarters.
    Organizer: Giovanni Ferraiolo (ICGEB). Application

    The Workshop is dedicated to those scientists actively involved in environmental releases of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The main purposes of the Workshop are (i) to supply basic information on risk assessment; and risk management and (ii) to provide an overview on international biosafety regulations and the main safety issues debated at an international level.

  2. 2 – 6 April 2001 – Florence, ITALY.(BIOSAFETY 2)

    Advanced research in risk assessment and management for the environmental release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs): identification of main areas for future investigation

    Location: Istituto Agronomico per l’Oltremare (IAO).
    Organizers: Marcello Broggio (IAO) and Giovanni Ferraiolo (ICGEB) Application

    This advanced Workshop is directed exclusively to officers and/or designated experts, working in the area of GMOs’ risk assessment at an official level (governmental agencies, scientific institutions, private sector etc.). The main purpose of the Workshop is to provide participants with a forum for discussion of the current approaches in risk assessment and to identify future areas for scientific investigation.

  3. 12 – 16 November 2001- Caracas, VENEZUELA.(BIOSAFETY 3)

    Advanced issues in biosafety: risk monitoring and public perception of biotechnology

    Location: Instituto Internacional de Estudios Avanzados (IDEA).
    Organizers: Efrain Salazar (CENIAP) and Rafael Rangel (Centro Technologico Polar) Application2

    General aspects of biosafety and risk assessment, risk monitoring of GMOs and public perception of biotechnology will be the issues addressed by international experts in this workshop.

Requests for information and applications directly to:

for BIOSAFETY 1 and 2: ICGEB Programme and Training Unit, Padriciano 99, 34012 Trieste, Italy. Tel: +39-040-3757333; Fax:+39-040-226555; courses@icgeb.trieste.it

for BIOSAFETY 3: Dr. Efrain Salazar, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (CENIAP),Zona Universitaria El Limon, Edif. 09, Maracay 2101, Venezuela. Tel. +58 43 471066; Fax: +58 43 471066, 831421; efra63@hotmail.com

Case studies of GE releases

The general approach in the workshops will focus, with special emphasis, on case study presentations and discussion of environmental releases of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Posters of the workshops, detailed programs and faculty members will be available on the ICGEB Biosafety WebPages (see under "Events" at http://www.icgeb.trieste.it/biosafety ).

Application forms and the ICGEB 2001 Calendar of meeting and courses are available at http://www.icgeb.trieste.it/TRAINING/CRS01/crsps01.htm

Preference will be given to applicants from developing countries. A limited number of grants will be available for scientists from ICGEB Member Countries. These grants will cover accommodation meals and incidentals for the duration of the course; travel is NOT funded. Registration for the workshops is limited to 30 participants.

NOTE. ICGEB is looking for Sponsors / Co-sponsors / Contributors in order to recognize contributions toward travel expenses of the participants. Interested organizations may wish to contact the ICGEB Secretariat in due time to facilitate the widest participation to the workshops.


To UNSUBSCRIBE yourself from this mailing list, send a message to the automated system Majordomo ( Majordomo@icgeb.trieste.it ) with the command "unsubscribe biosafety-news" in the mail message body:

A SUBSCRIPTION FORM to Biosafety News is available at http://www.icgeb.trieste.it/biosafety/bsfmail.htm

The ICGEB Biosafety Unit apologizes for any inconvenience due to undesired posting and thanks you for your interest in its activities ( biosafe@icgeb.trieste.it )

___________________________________

Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone)    612-870-4846 (fax)
mritchie@iatp.org
http://www.iatp.org
http://www.wtowatch.org
http://www.sustain.org/biotech
http://www.gefoodalert.org


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Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 12:11:07 EST
From: RBBAX@aol.com
From: ngin@icsenglish.com
Sender: owner-food@foe.co.uk

Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin)
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin

This is particularly interesting given that this powerful call for a moratorium from the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference is being made to a government which has been by far the most gung ho in Africa in respect to GM crops. As the article notes, tens of thousands of hectares in South Africa have been planted with GE crops.

And famously, out of 23 delegates from African countries to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the South African was the only one who didn't sign up to the declaration on the subject of GE in food and farming which stated, "We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly, nor economically beneficial to us." The Southern African bishops clearly join in that objection.

South African Church Calls for Moratorium on GE Food

Panafrican News Agency, November 8, 2000, Cape Town, South Africa
http://allafrica.com/stories/200011080331.html

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference Wednesday expressed its concern over the utilisation of Genetic Engineering or GE technologies in agriculture and food production.

Tens of thousands of hectares in South Africa have been planted with GE crops.

Modified maize and cotton are already commercially produced, while soybean, potato, tomato, apple and canola are in a trial phase.

The Rev. Wilfred Napier, archbishop of Durban, said GE is an imprecise technology and that the long-term health effects of consuming GE food have not been assessed.

"Scientists are warning that new allergens, carcinogens and toxins may be introduced into foods," he said. "Moreover, the damage to the environment would be largely irreversible. Once released, genetically engineered organisms become part of our ecosystem."

He added that another major issue posed by the transgenic crop technologies is the cross-pollination of neighbouring non-GE crops due to pollen drift. This pollution could result in the eradication of biodiversity in areas bordering genetically modified crops.

"Because we do not know whether there are any serious risks to the environment or human health, to produce and market genetically modified food is morally irresponsible. The precautionary principle should apply, as it is done in medical research," he said.

He called on the government to introduce a five-year freeze on genetic engineering, in support of the campaign launched by the South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering.

"We agree that a five-year period is the minimum time needed to implement stringent safety tests on GE foods and to thoroughly research the health, safety and environmental impacts of GE crops.

"During this time the import and export of GE foods and crops as well as the patenting of seeds for food and farm crops should be stopped," Napier said.

He also urged the government to introduce compulsory labelling of GE food and sign the international Protocol on Biosafety which requires that countries exporting genetically modified organisms provide, in advance, detailed information to the importing country.

"Greater concentration of ownership inherent in the new technologies, and laws drawn up to protect them, is set to repeat and worsen one of thegreat mistakes of the green revolution. More dependence and marginalisation loom for the poorest. The inability to contain genetic material once released into the environment means that even field trials of new crops are tantamount to uncontrolled, irreversible experiments and invasions of the global commons."

Christian Aid – Selling Suicide: farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2000 06:38:00 EST
From: RBBAX@aol.com

South African newspaper questions Aventis application for StarLink

By Fiona MacLeod November 10, 2000
Johannesburg Mail and Guardian via Africa News Service
http://www.agweb.com/news/news.cfm?id=15089&service=27

Johannesburg – Aventis, which has been denied entry of its products into Europe by the EU, has applied to grow its genetically modified crop in South Africa.

A company that has had to remove about 300 food products from United States supermarket shelves because they contain a genetically engineered maize that may cause human allergies now wants to grow the crop in South Africa.

The French-based pharmaceuticals giant Aventis has applied to the Department of Agriculture for a permit to introduce the crop to South Africa. The maize is known as StarLink and it has been engineered to contain a gene that is suspected to cause allergies.

Aventis had permission to grow the crop in the US only for animal foods and industrial use. But the discovery of StarLink in the human food chain in the past weeks has caused mass hysteria among consumers.

Snacks, cereals and restaurant foods produced by major brand names like Kraft Foods, Safeway and Western Family Foods have been recalled and two large food companies shut down their production lines.

Many of the contaminated products are sold under different brand names, so it is difficult for consumers to know whether the food in their pantry is suspect.

At least one lawsuit has been filed against Kraft by a Chicago man who claims he suffered severe stomach cramps, diarrhoea, a headache and hives after eating tacos made with contaminated maize.

StarLink contains a pesticide gene, Cry9C, that is resistant to heat and difficult to digest. It is this gene that is suspected to cause allergies.

In its application to the Department of Agriculture in September, Aventis said it wants to grow maize with the Cry9C gene in South African "research trials". This involves testing the crop in local conditions before it can be grown commercially.

"Even if StarLink maize is grown commercially for animal consumption or

industrial purposes only, can we stop the contamination of other foodstuffs?" asks Mariam Mayet, a Johannesburg lawyer who specialises in legislation on genetic engineering.

"South Africa does not require genetically modified food to be segregated from that which has not been genetically modified. Labeling is also not required, which means the consumer will be unaware that he is consuming contaminated foods that have specifically not been approved for human consumption."

The StarLink scare in the US has raised questions about whether it is practically possible to segregate maize approved for human consumption from unapproved crops.

It has not been established how the mix-up happened, but the problem starts with the crop's tendency to cross-pollinate while it is growing. Aventis created buffer zones of 22m around the StarLink maize fields, but now acknowledges the distance may not be enough.

"This case clearly calls for South Africa to use the precautionary principle and ban the import of any genetically modified crop that may cause harm to human health or may enter the human food supply," says Mayet.

The European Commission, which is investigating the possibility that StarLink products may have been exported to Europe, last week said it had invoked the precautionary principle in dealing with StarLink.

"Until we have a risk assessment, it's better to keep it out," said Wilfried Schneider, a representative of the European Union (EU) delegation to the US. The EU has enforced mandatory labeling of genetically engineered products for the past two years.

In Japan, where StarLink is not approved even for animal feed, the consumers' union has reported detecting it in snack foods and animal feed sold locally. The country is now trying to source its maize supply elsewhere.

Department of Agriculture representative Magriet Engelbrecht says the Aventis application to bring StarLink to South Africa is being reviewed by an advisory committee. She says a final decision is unlikely before January.

"What happens in other countries is going to be taken into account by the committee," Engelbrecht adds. "The experience in the US will play a role."

Aventis has offered to buy back much of its maize crop grown in the US this year. The company says it has new data to demonstrate that fears about allergies are unfounded and has asked for temporary approval of the maize from the US authorities so that it can wend its way through the food supply without disrupting markets.

There is no record of StarLink maize shipments having been imported into South Africa, though it may be present in foodstuffs imported from the US.

"In other countries the StarLink contaminations have been picked up by consumer groups who insist on testing food for genetic modification," says Earthlife Africa's Glenda Lindsay. "In South Africa the NGOs don't have the resources to do this."

On December 1 last year the government finally pushed through the Genetically Modified Organisms Act of 1997 in an attempt to tighten regulation of the fast- growing field of genetic engineering.

But Mayet says the Act still falls short of international safeguards.

"Monitoring by civil society groups is extremely difficult. Information about foreseeable impacts and emergency measures in the case of an accident is not available," she says.

"These are typical risk-management measures and should be the hallmarks of any bio- safety legislation. But they are not set out in the Act or its regulations."

The Aventis application to introduce StarLink crops is one of 111 permit applications received by the department between January and October relating to genetically modified organisms. The applications, most from the US, are for a variety of activities, including commercial releases, field trials, contained use and commodity imports for human and animal consumption. A total of 106 applications have been successful and five are under review.

Before the Act was passed last year, 165 field trials were approved and two commercial releases were authorised, for the commercial planting of an insect- resistant maize crop and an insect- resistant type of cotton.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 06:24:10 EST
From: RBBAX@aol.com
Originated from: Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org
Posted: 11/12/2000 By mritchie@iatp.org

Extract/quote:

"While the monitoring authorities and the scientific community concentrate mostly on the food chain and environmental implications (or the harvest per acre and economic profits aspects) of genetic modification, the same amount of attention does not go into other connected, important issues, like what a cotton carrying a gene that makes antibiotics ineffective, could do when introduced into the female system through the use of personal care products made of this "new" cotton".

Please circulate

GE cotton – a health risk?

By Sakuntala Narasimhan, From Trying to play God.
http://www.deccanherald.com

Cottoning on to cotton

First, some background explanation on how I happened to come across this important piece of information concerning potential hazards to women's health.

In May 2000, I spent a week at a residential interactive seminar in Europe that brought together participants from 37 countries. At the end of the seminar, the organisers created a separate list-serve connection for us to continue to exchange information of interest to us, from different parts of the world, through the internet. Since then, I have been receiving copious amounts of news reports from places as far flung as Mexico, U.K. and China, culled from a variety of sources ranging from scientific periodicals to newspaper items.

Much of this information relates to the pros and cons of genetic modification, specifically of food items, but one particular item pertaining to genetically modified cotton, has caught my attention. It shows the awesome interconnectedness of a vast range of issues, even in this age of super-specialisations in increasingly narrow areas of expertise.

This report is a joint press release from the Ecological Action group of Ecuador and a rural study group of Argentina, and refers to information found in the archives of the British Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (which vets applications for commercial approval of new food items and animal feed). The "strongly worded " advice from this committee, against the approval of Monsanto's transgenic cotton seed, was given in February 99 but for some reason the U.K. ministry did not make the information public for several months (till the Argentine-Ecuador groups unearthed it). Incidentally, the European Union had also rejected Monsanto's application for sale of transgenic cotton in Europe, around the same time.

Transgenic cotton varieties contain a gene which confers resistance to antibiotics like streptomycin and spectinomycin. The principal use of streptomycin is as a second line drug in the treatment of tuberculosis, but it is in the treatment of gonorrhea (a venereal disease) that spectinomycin is most important. It is the drug of choice for treating strains of gonorrhea already resistant to penecillin and third generation cephalosporins especially during pregnancy.

The bacteria responsible for gonorrhea could "easily acquire the gene from transgenic plant material during infections of the mouht, intestines or respiratory tract – or pick it up from external environments of animals and human beings, and serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance. In which case, medicines will not work.

But why is this of interest to the average woman ? Because cotton is used in women's sanitary napkins and tampons, and also in babies' nappies , bandages and other wound dressings. Dr. Elizabeth Bravo, a biologist from Ecuador, says that the health implications could be "enormous". (Monsanto is trying to introduce transgenic cotton into India and Thailand – a news item of two weeks ago says, "Following the recommendation of the Karnataka Agricultural Commission,the department of agriculture has launched Bt cotton field trials in a big way to develop Bollworm resistant cotton. Bt cotton hybrid is a genetically modified variety developed by Monsanto.")

Yes, wound dressings are also used by males and children, but in the case of women's use of sanitary napkins and tampons, there is an additional non-medical dimension to the problem – women would feel inhibited in talking about problems caused through the use of personal hygiene products , and would be hesitant about seeking medical help in case of complications. (And we do not even know as yet, what kind of complications we could be talking about because the information is as yet not available.)

While the monitoring authorities and the scientific community concentrate mostly on the food chain and environmental implications (or the harvest per acre and economic profits aspects) of genetic modification, the same amount of attention does not go into other connected, important issues, like what a cotton carrying a gene that makes antibiotics ineffective, could do when introduced into the female system through the use of personal care products made of this "new" cotton.

Not just the issue of rendering gonorrhea treatment ineffective, but what other (hitherto unknown) health dimensions will be thrown up as genetically modified organisms proliferate, we just do not know. Except that Dr. Elizabeth bravo has drawn attention to one aspect that no one had thought about so far in the debate on transgenic products.

While the "latest" products (from chewing gum to 'improved' sanitary napkins) are quick to spread across the markets of the developing countries (especially those like India where disposable money incomes are rising sharply), the scientific information about the pros and cons does not spread equally fast. A new product advertised as "super-absorbent" is bound to attract buyers (especially the urban, upper middle class).

And transgenic technology is almost exclusively in the hands of large multinational companies that can afford to advertise very aggressively, with huge budgets for television and other mass media. Who takes the warning messages of persons like Dr. Elizabeth Bravo, to these same buyers out there ? Even the mainstream media had not reported on her findings, and it was only due to the information links forged by the group I belong to, that the attention of our group was drawn to this aspect of genetic engineering.

Even if only a handful of freak cases of allergic reaction (or other health problems) are detected, who compensates those who are affected (especially when they may not even know the cause, because it is unsuspected ) ?

Some years ago, a few fatalities were detected among women who had gone in for a new 'super-absorbent' variety of tampons. By the time the Toxic Shock Syndrome was identified and traced to the tampons, the damage was already beyond repair.

Till now, mostly synthetic formulations were regarded as possible allergy-causing sources (cheap metal costume jewellery, for instance). Metallic fibres in fancy clothes (Lurex, or even synthetic jari) is made of metal ,or plastic coated metal or metal coated plastic (see "Clothes you wear", in Insight magazine, September-October 2000 issue) Women allergic to a particular metal may not even be aware that their skin rash or discolouration (or even falling hair) may be due to a reaction to the metal in the fibre. These are issues that target women in particular.

A number of reports shared by the list-serve group that I am a member of , point out that genetic modification has, as of now, far more ecological ramifications, and the potential to cause more problems than they promise to solve. Mixed farming initiatives, using natural pest control methods through pant diversity, have shown far better results, with lesser social costs. But that is another story altogether. What we need to note here, is the implications of having modified cotton in products that have nothing to do with the food chain or land use, products that are used specifically by women.

Where once we were concentrating on ensuring that synthetics were vetted for problems they might cause vis-à-vis natural alternatives, now we need additional vigilance in vetting even so-called 'natural' products like cotton. What looks like the real stuff may be something else altogether, in terms of properties (and side-effects) , thanks to human ingenuity in trying to play God.

quote:

"All policymakers must be vigilant to the possibility of research data being manipulated by corporate bodies and of scientific colleagues being seduced by the material charms of industry. Trust is no defence against an aggressively deceptive corporate sector,"

THE LANCET, April 2000


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 16:34:59 +0200
From: "taynton" taynton@cdrive.co.za
From: NLP Wessex nlpwessex@bigfoot.com

BIOWATCH: GM crop 'con-trick' – new paper

NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
nlpwessex@bigfoot.com     www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex

Sections:
Comment
The Paper
Abstract
Descriptors
Codes

Comment

A huge con-trick has been executed on US farmers over the last few years concerning the performance of transgenic crops. This we spelt out in an article written nearly two years ago entitled "THE EMPEROR'S TRANSGENIC CLOTHES".

We are pleased, therefore, to see that this issue is at last starting to be tentatively acknowledged in the scientific literature:

"Concerns, about the lack of public test data on transgenic cultivars, and about relying solely on OCTs for their evaluation, prompted Cotton Incorporated to convene a working group......Principal points of the proposal were that a minimum of 2 years of public test data should be available to growers at the time of first sale, and that the data should include comparison of transgenic cultivars with cultivars generally recognized as having high yield potential.

The proposal also suggested that the testing should provide comprehensive economic evaluation of new cultivars by concurrently evaluating yields, fibre quality, and the efficacy and costs of the respective pest management programmes. "

Quite.

To understand in more detail the fraud that has been going on here which has necessistated this kind of response see the orginal 'Emperor' article at: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmlemmings.htm

For more information on the disappointing performance of GM crops which is frequently kept quiet by the biotech companies see: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmagric.htm

Similarly when the first transgenic crop was subjected to public testing in the UK the contractor carrying out the work had to resort to faking the data, see: http://www.netlink.de/gen/Zeitung/2000/000416a.html . As Labour's Alan Simpson said at the time: 'This is confirmation of all our

worst fears that the Government's GM policy is being driven by bad or fraudulent science. They are reliant on the industry that wants to sell these seeds to monitor the trials. This is insane, and criminally irresponsible. If data from one company has been falsified how do we know others have not been up to the same.' The variety has now been put on hold as a result of other deficiencies discovered in relation to its testing.

=========================================================================

The Paper

TitleProposed guidelines for pre-commercial evaluation of transgenic and conventional cotton cultivars.
AuthorMay, L.; Brown, S.; Nichols, B.; Kerby, T.; Silvertooth, J.
Correspondent AddressUniversity of Georgia, Tifton, GA, USA.
Source2000 Proceedings Beltwide Cotton Conferences, San Antonio, USA, 4-8 January, 2000: Volume 1. p.503-507
Publication Year2000
Publisher/EditorEditors: Dugger, P.; Richter, D. Publisher: National Cotton Council, Memphis, USA

Abstract

The primary commercial features of recently released transgenic cotton (Gossypium) cultivars are their respective pest management traits, including, tolerance of the herbicides Buctrilreg trade mark (bromoxynil) and Roundup Ultrareg trade mark (glyphosate), and the capacity to synthesize a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) endotoxin for control of lepidopteran pests.

Many transgenic cultivars have been offered for sale with fewer years of public testing than most growers and their advisors would have liked. Lack of time and resources may have resulted in some having been sold in locations with no previous public testing in the immediate growing area. Despite the lack of public test information, the collective market share of transgenic cultivars has increased every year since their introduction, presumably because of high grower interest in their value-added, pest management features.

Obviously, transgenic pest management traits strongly influence the pest management programmes that are appropriate for the transgenic cultivars, and the efficacy of the pest management programmes may positively affect yields and the costs of production. However, in Official Cultivar Trials (OCTs), comparison of the transgenic cultivars with non-transgenic cultivars has been done using only conventional and, frequently, a high level of pest management.

Concerns, about the lack of public test data on transgenic cultivars, and about relying solely on OCTs for their evaluation, prompted Cotton Incorporated to convene a working group, the objective of which was to seek consensus among public and private sector researchers on how to enable growers to confidently choose the best cultivar and pest management technology for their situation.

The drafting subcommittee of the working group proposed guidelines for cultivar evaluation to a joint meeting of SRIEG-61 (Southern Regional Information Exchange Group 61 -- Cotton Breeding), and a new Regional Project in preparation, SRDC-9801 (Southern Regional Development Committee 9801 – Development of Genetic Resources for Cotton). Principal points of the proposal were that a minimum of 2 years of public test data should be available to growers at the time of first sale, and that the data should include comparison of transgenic cultivars with cultivars generally recognized as having high yield potential.

The proposal also suggested that the testing should provide comprehensive economic evaluation of new cultivars by concurrently evaluating yields, fibre quality, and the efficacy and costs of the respective pest management programmes. 9 ref.

Descriptors

cotton; cultivars; evaluation; guidelines; transgenic plants; bromoxynil; economic evaluation; endotoxins; glyphosate; herbicides; insect pests; pest management; pest control; herbicide resistance; genetic transformation; field tests; variety trials; plant pests; weed control; Gossypium; Bacillus thuringiensis; USA; Malvaceae; Malvales; dicotyledons; angiosperms; Spermatophyta; plants; Bacillus; Bacillaceae; Firmicutes; bacteria; prokaryotes; North America; America; Developed Countries; OECD Countries

Codes

Plant Breeding and Genetics (FF020); Field Crops (NEW March 2000) (FF005); Biotechnology (WW000); Plant Pests (NEW March 2000) (FF620); Host Resistance and Immunity (HH600); Pesticide and Drug Resistance (HH410); Pathogen, Pest and Parasite and Weed Management (General) (HH000); Laws and Regulations (DD500)

Risk Category

AGRICULTURE; GENERAL CONCERNS
Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 16:50:52 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton" taynton@cdrive.co.za

Paper: Big Holes in GM Testing

NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
nlpwessex@bigfoot.com     http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex

"In several documents used for notifications no declarations even on essential inherent plant toxins and antinutrients could be found, for instance data on phytate in modified maize were provided only in one of four documents ..... possible environmental influences on constituents of modified crops need more attention. "

Basically current testing of GMOs is full of holes.

=========================================================================
TitleSubstantial equivalence of antinutrients and inherent plant toxins in genetically modified novel foods.
AuthorNovak, W. K.; Haslberger, A. G.
Correspondent AddressInstitute for Nutritional Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.
SourceFood and Chemical Toxicology vol. 38 (6) p.473-483
Publication Year2000

Abstract

For a safety evaluation of foodstuff derived from genetically modified crops, the concept of the substantial equivalence of modified organisms with their parental lines is used following an environmental safety evaluation. To assess the potential pleiotropic effect of genetic modifications on constituents of modified crops data from US and EC documents were investigated with regard to inherent plant toxins and antinutrients.

Analysed were documents of

  • rape (glucosinolates, phytate),
  • maize (phytate), tomato (tomatine, solanine, chaconine, lectins, oxalate),
  • potato (solanine, chaconine, protease-inhibitors, phenols) and
  • soybean (protease-inhibitors, lectins, isoflavones, phytate).

    In several documents used for notifications no declarations even on essential inherent plant toxins and antinutrients could be found, for instance data on phytate in modified maize were provided only in one of four documents.

    Significant variations in the contents of these compounds in parental and modified plants especially due to environmental influences were observed: drought stress, for example, was made responsible for significantly increased glucosinolate levels of up to 72.6 micromol/g meal in modified and parental rape plants in field trials compared to recommended standard concentrations of less than 30 micromol/g.

    Taking into account these wide natural variations generally the concentrations of inherent plant toxins and antinutrients in modified products were in the range of the concentrations in parental organisms. The results presented indicate that the concept of the substantial equivalence is useful for the risk assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used for novel foods but possible environmental influences on constituents of modified crops need more attention.

    Consistent guidelines, specifying data of relevant compounds which have to be provided for notification documents of specific organisms have to be established. Because of the importance of inherent plant toxins and antinutrients on nutritional safety, also coherent databases of standard parental lines and clear criteria for mandatory declarations are necessary. 35 ref.

    Descriptors

    foods; toxins; databases; drought; evaluation; glucosinolates; guidelines; isoflavones; lectins; maize; phytic acid; rape; soyabeans; stress; nutrition; safety; antinutritional factors; genetically modified foods; man; Zea mays; Glycine (Fabaceae); Brassica napus var. oleifera; Homo; Hominidae; Primates; mammals; vertebrates; Chordata; animals; Zea; Poaceae; Cyperales; monocotyledons; angiosperms; Spermatophyta; plants; Papilionoideae; Fabaceae; Fabales; dicotyledons; Brassica napus; Brassica; Brassicaceae; Capparidales

    Codes

    Biotechnology (WW000); Human Nutrition (General) (VV100); Food Contamination, Residues and Toxicology (QQ200)

    Risk Category

    HUMAN HEALTH; GENERAL CONCERNS
    Top PreviousFront Page
    date: tue, 14 nov 2000 16:41:16 +0200
    from: "taynton" taynton@cdrive.co.za

    Press Release (Accion Ecologica, Ecuador, Institute of Science in Society, UK, and Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Argentina)

    Monsanto’s Transgenic Cottons can Make Gonorrhoea Untreatable

    According to UK Government Sources, 28 September 2000

    The information is in the archives of the UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) which vats applications for commercial approval of novel foods and animal feed. The strongly worded advice against the approval of Monsanto’s transgenic cotton seed, was given in February 1999 (but was only published earlier this year by the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food). At around the same time, the European Union rejected Monsanto’s application for the sale of the transgenic cottons in Europe.

    The aad gene, which confers resistance to the antibiotics streptomycin and spectinomycin, is present in both Bollgard (insect-protected) and Roundup Ready (herbicide tolerant) transgenic cottons.

    The bacterium responsible for gonorrhoea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, could acquire the aad gene from transgenic plant materials during infection of the mouth and small and large intestine as well as the respiratory tract. N. gonorrhoeae could also acquire the gene indirectly from other bacteria in the internal and external environments of animals and human beings, which can take up the gene from transgenic plant materials. Those other bacteria can serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes.

    The principle use of streptomycin is as a second-line drug for tuberculosis. But it is in the treatment of gonorrhoea that spectinomycin is most important. It is the drug of choice for treating strains of N. gonorrhoeae already resistant to penicillin and third generation cephalosporins, especially during pregnancy.

    About 60% of the cotton harvest consist of cotton seed. Cotton seed oil is extracted for human consumption, while the residue, cotton seed cake is used in animal feed. Although the Government advice was aimed at cotton seed, there are other hazards arising from the use of transgenic cotton itself, which may be why it was rejected by the EU.

    "Cotton is used in women’s sanitary napkins and tampons, in babies’ nappies, in bandages and other wound dressings." Dr. Elizabeth Bravo, a biologist from Accion Ecologica, Ecuador, reminds us, "The health impacts are enormous."

    Both transgenic cottons are being grown in millions of hectares in the United States and China, and exported to other countries. They are also planted to a smaller extent in Argentina. And Monsanto is trying to introduce them into Bolivia and other Latin American countries as well as India and Thailand. Illegal plantings of at least 500 hectares have already been discovered in Indonesia.

    "Why is this important scientific advice from UK Government scientists kept in the archives for more than a year before it was published?" asked Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, geneticist and biophysicist from the Institute of Science in Society (UK). "It could have, and should have, prevented millions of hectares of transgenic cottons from being planted."

    Dr. Bravo and Ho call for all transgenic cotton crops should be destroyed, and no more should be planted. Meanwhile, people should avoid using transgenic cotton products, especially in tampons, babies’ nappies and wound dressings. And transgenic cotton seeds should certainly not be used in food or feed.

    Contacts:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Bravo and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho at Amerian Hotel, Buenos Aires tel: 0351-155-633635 , e-mail: monaco@onenet.com.ar
  • Dr. Aldolfo Boy, grupodereflexionrural@hotmail.com